Wednesday 18 June 2008

'We lack liberation and freedom'

Pascal Bruckner makes the case for democratic countries boycotting the third UN World Conference against Racism, due to be held in Geneva next year, which promises to be a 'repeat performance' of the 2001 event in Durban that 'rapidly degenerated into one-upmanship among victims and bloodlust directed at Israeli organisations and anyone else suspected of being Jewish'. 

According to Bruckner, recent reports by Doudou Diene, the UN Special Rapporteur for racism, xenophobia and discrimination, 'do not encourage optimism'. Diene's main concern appears to be the rise of 'Islamophobia' and he's one of those arguing that offending people's religious beliefs is a form of racism that should be outlawed (see this post).

Much more encouraging is this piece by Pakistanti democratic socialist Farooq Sulehria, in which he reports on the sorry state of human rights in the Muslim world and castigates Arab and Asian leaders for their tendency (exemplified by Diene) to blame others for their countries' ills:

When all else fails, 'Jews' and the 'Christian' West are there to lay the blame for all our ills. Conspiracy theories instead of scientific, rational thought holds sway across much of the Muslim world...

However, the solution to all our problems is always simple: return to an imagined past which, mercifully for the people of the seventh century, never existed...

We kill Theo van Gogh when confronted with a film. We burn down our cities in response to a blasphemous and racist caricature. Still, we refuse to understand that our answer to every 'provocation' is either a fatwa or mindless violence - perhaps because creativity is anathema to us. Not because we lack fertile minds, but because we lack liberation and freedom - liberation from self-imposed mental, moral, and cultural censors. And freedom to think and express.


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